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October 03rd 2013 print

Patrick McCauley

A pronounced dislike for Abbott

The election has come and gone and Labor with it, but the contempt in the academy and at Their ABC is palpable

Is it just me or is it that our ABC presenters, together with almost all the non-liberal politicians on both TV and radio, are incapable of articulating the name ‘Tony Abbott’ without  a contemptuous tone in their voices? They seem to be caught in an overstressing of the first syllable of his surname which betrays a kind of disgusted contempt for having to mouth the terrible word.

Abbott’s is a simple name with only two syllables in each word and  requires no real effort to say in a neutral, unstressed manner. If my ears don’t deceive me, one can only assume that presenters are unable to contain their contempt or that they wish to convey their disrespect regardless. This is the kind of thing one finds in Year 10 classes, where students full of orbiting hormones are unable to harness the belligerence in their voices.

There is probably no way to point out to these ABC employees that such adolescent behaviour is counter-productive. However one wonders what would happen to all this unstated vitriol should their employer — that is us, Australia’s taxpayers, the citizens — should refuse suddenly to pay them. What would happen, for example, if the Australian government were to shut down suddenly, like the government in the United States, and all ABC employees were stood down for a couple of weeks and left with no outlet for all that bile?

My guess is that they would be unable to retain their emotional stability without the daily outpouring that their jobs allow, and that they would continue to show up for work, unpaid. Like addicts, they would have no choice but to continue their addiction to stave off the sickness that would consume them should they withdraw from their daily dose of emotional relief provided by the public display of their contempt.

The ABC, SBS, together with the academy housed in the universities of the land, seem to live in an underwater archipelago of intellectual islands dispersed throughout Australia. You can feel the change in atmosphere as you enter these spaces. Words and language actually change within these islands, as if you have just dived into a deep pool and suddenly the whole sensibility of the world of fresh air disappears. Beneath the water of these archipelagos there is a hatred of Air World and a constant striving to raise the water level to consume the land. Yet the unbridled contempt heats the watery atmosphere like a boiling kettle.

After only a few weeks in the job, and with some very sensible progress already made, within this archipelago of public broadcastingTony Abbott is daily consumed in a far greater sea of contempt and vitriol than Julia Gillard was ever subjected to. Much of it comes down to his gender and his religion. Whether this is misandry and comparable to the misogyny said to have dogged Gillard is in the hands of David Marr and those who re-define words for the Macquarie Dictionary.